David Homan had no illusions about his financial future as a serious composer. Sitting in a spacious café in Midtown bathed in late-afternoon sunshine, he smiles and says, “I knew that being a composer would never be a way to make a living, so I chose to work as an arts administrator.”
At 35 he is the youngest executive director of the America-Israel Cultural Foundation in the organization’s history. And he’s a composer whose music has been featured in many theater productions and dance programs. One of his most successful collaborations with a choreographer resulted this spring in a unique result, his daughter Eva. You see, Homan’s wife is Ariel Grossman, head of Ariel Rivka Dance. He serves the company as executive director/composer.
That name may be familiar to Jewish Week readers. Homan and Grossman’s previous collaboration took place last winter when the company premiered “The Book of Esther,” a deft two-part reimagining of the biblical story that puts a feminist twist on the plight of Vashti while underlining the courage of her Jewish successor. His music is finally going to be released on CD next month.
Raised a cultural Jew in Gainesville, Fla., Homan firmly asserts that sees himself “as a Jewish composer,” and was delighted to take on “Esther.”
“This is a specifically Jewish work, with strong themes that we gave our own interpretation,” he says. I came up with melodies that sounded ‘Jewish’ but weren’t klezmer or used Middle-Eastern modalities, and I layered them on top of my style.”
That style draws from three major influences, Homan says: “Brahms by way of Ralph Vaughn Williams, Bartok and Philip Glass. Neo-classical, neo-Romantic, that’s how I write and how I want people to hear it.”
He loves writing music for dance and theater because narrative imposes a structure, an armature upon which he can build.
But he also likes writing songs, and has been dabbling in rock music in a band with his brother Daniel. Their band, EVA, uses both classic and contemporary poetry as the basis for a pop sound that he says mixes “Brahms, Satie, Scriabin, all favorites of mine, with Dave Matthews and Eric Clapton.”
It’s a project that Homan says will continue to produce more songs and recordings, but “there is never going to be a live show.” Too many schedules to coordinate, you know.